In wake of crash, Green issues emergency proclamation to bolster medical airlift capacity

A large search by air and sea is continuing Friday morning for a medical transport plane that crashed off Maui with three people onboard.
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 11:53 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2022 at 5:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. Josh Green issued an emergency proclamation Friday aimed at supplementing Hawaii’s medical airlift capacity following the crash of a medical transport plane off Maui.

Green said the proclamation will augment critical care services to the neighbor islands.

Search continues for medical transport plane that crashed off Maui

“An emergency proclamation was issued this morning in response to the Hawaii Life Flight air medical aircraft that went missing off the coast of Maui while enroute to pick up a patient located on Hawai’i island,” Green said.

Following the crash, Hawaii Life Flight put a pause of its other operations.

Green said the proclamation will allow aircraft and flight crews to jump in to assist with medical transport flights.

“The focus is augmenting services to the neighbor islands and deploying extra capacity for critical care needs.”

Since its only competitor left the state earlier this year, Hawaii Life Flight has been the state’s only interisland medical transport company.

When the company went into a safety stand-down after the crash, Gov. Josh Green had to scramble to ensure neighbor island patients can get care they need on Oahu.

“We learned early this morning that we had to take action,” Green said. “By seven in the morning we convened the team, emergency meetings from eight until about 11, and we got the emergency proclamation done because we know these services are critical.”

The alarm was felt across the state, where neighbor island medical facilities send about 15 patients a day to Oahu for critical care.

Elena Cabatu, Communications Director for Hilo Medical Center, said the medical transport company was an essential partner.

“It’s almost every day someone gets transported out of Hilo Medical Center,” Cabatu said.

“Those are for those high-risk OB and pediatric patients, those with severe strokes and heart attacks, and also head injuries.”

The governor’s emergency proclamation enabled immediate activation of two national guard black hawk medical evacuation helicopters.

Meanwhile, with its seven turboprop aircraft grounded, Hawaii Life Flights parent company, Global Medical Response, also dispatched a Hawker Jet and crew., which could begin transports Saturday.

Speedy Bailey, Regional Director of AMR Hawaii said the jet will be a big help.

“With that jet we will be able to transport safely and quickly you know patients much quicker than the king airs we are currently using,” Bailey said.

The proclamation also allows Global’s medical staff licensed in other states to work here.

Green said the emergency reinforces the need to deal with the lack of medical services in rural areas, and Cabatu agreed.

“The more we can take care of more patients on the neighbor islands, the better,” she said. “It’ll be for our patients and, and the less need we will have to transport our patients to other facilities

It’s not clear how long Hawaii Life Flight will be standing down.

The emergency proclamation will expire December 27.